We find it telling that Stellantis press releases mention most of the brands assimilated into the new company, but Citroën seems to be absent in many.
In the last two weeks three announcements made by Stellantis are telling:
On July 14, the appointment of Uwe Hochgeschurtz as the new CEO of the Opel Brand September 1, 2021, was announced in a press release. Mr. Hochgeschurtz, held the position of CEO Renault Germany, Austria and Switzerland.
Hochgeschurtz will succeed the recently elevated Opel CEO Michael Lohscheller who’s end was corporately put as having “decided to pursue a new challenge outside Stellantis”.
Carlos Tavares, Stellantis CEO said, “I would like to warmly thank Michael for having established strong sustainable foundations for Opel together with the employees. This impressive turnaround paves the way for the forthcoming worldwide commercial development of the brand. I am convinced that Uwe will successfully drive this new chapter of the Opel brand, thanks to his more than 30 years of automotive commercial experience. I wish Michael all the best for his next career step.”
As per the release, Uwe Hochgeschurtz will join the top executive team of Stellantis, and will report directly to Carlos Tavares.
Hochgeschurtz started his career in the automotive industry in 1990 at Ford, before joining VW in 2001 and Renault in 2004. He studied business administration in Germany (Wuppertal & Cologne), the UK (Birmingham) and France (Paris Dauphine).
In the same release it was stated that Stellantis is expanding its commercial activities, including in China, and entering the electrification era.
While the focus if this press release was obviously Opel, it gives credence to Opel being given the green light by Tavares for worldwide commercial development of the brand. Does worldwide also mean North America?
Then, on July 20 another press release announced that Stellantis picks Amazon Alexa Automotive’s Ned Curic as its new chief technology officer, to manage all the group’s information technology resources. He is slated to start his new role on August 30, reporting directly to Tavares.
Before joining Amazon in 2017, Curic had previously covered several positions in Toyota, including one as executive vice president of technology subsidiary Toyota Connected, managing software engineers, data scientists and designers.
Tavares, who is designing the group’s top management after Stellantis was formed at the beginning of this year, said Curic would play an “integral and strategic role” in setting its “strategic mobility direction, development and future growth”.
“Ned joins us at the perfect time to shape Stellantis in the context of unprecedented shift of our industry”, Tavares said.
More the point, about Citroën being cast aside, four days later on July 24, this announcement was made:
Stellantis launches design studio to provide global brand design services.
Stellantis Design Studio will be a creative agency to provide global brand design services across a broad range of companies, from transportation to industrial, manufacturing and tertiary businesses. The Stellantis Design Studio will build on the Peugeot Design Lab expertise and expand it to the company’s portfolio of brands, such as Maserati, Jeep, DS Automobiles, and Lancia, the company said in a release. (Note: there here was no mention of Citroën in that last sentence. Also telling — the key people heading up new entity are not from Citroën.)
Klaus Busse and Arnault Gournac will join forces to lead Stellantis Design Studio.
Klaus Busse, who oversees Maserati, Jeep in Europe and Stellantis Design Studio as Head of Design, leads the strategic development of the Studio expanding to the company’s brands. He will contribute his wealth of experience in luxury brands to widen the scope of expression of Stellantis design.
“The success story and expertise of Peugeot Design Lab is unrivalled. The extension of this know-how to all of our brands opens up incomparable perspectives,” Busse said.
Arnault Gournac, Director of Peugeot Design Lab and Cycles Peugeot, led the Studio expansion to support Stellantis globally. In line with his strong management and transformative leadership at Decathlon design, Orange Labs and Carrefour Group innovation, he serves as Creative Director for the Stellantis Design Studio’s evolution and its international development.
“Looking back on our brand portfolio, Stellantis designers have created some of the most exciting and visually appealing vehicles in automotive history. We plan to take that creative energy and offer our key competencies to our global external partners to help them take their brand and design projects to the next level. We will work to expand our reach by fostering new partnerships with global clients from all horizons,” Gournac said. “
Granted, while Peugeot has shown innovation over the years, it pales in comparison to Citroën and the accomplishments realized at its Bureau d’etudes. Gournac’s roots in Peugeot and Busse’s apparent admiration for the “expertise of Peugeot Design Lab” along with no direct mention of Citroen, is really quite a snub of the brand.
The press release goes on the say; The new studio capitalizes on the Peugeot Design Lab’s nine years of experience and more than 120 collaborations with prestigious customers and partners, such as Airbus Helicopter, Alstom, Bombardier, Bénéteau Groupe, Zodiac, Haier Group, the F.I.A. Whirlpool, Gillardeau Oysters and Pleyel.
Peugeot Design Lab continues its development within Stellantis Design Studio to address all projects beyond automotive for the Peugeot brand and reinforce key partners and projects. Stellantis Design Studio will progressively expand this expertise to all Stellantis brands and pursue global design consultancy for all external clients, offering possible activations with its internal brands or remain in full non-disclosure, the release added.
So, it would appear with these latest moves that the mindset in Stellantis, with its CEO Carlos Tavares rising from Peugeot in the company to control it, is very much Peugeot, even Opel, over Citroën. The fact that even DS Automobiles gets mentioned when Citroën does not, seems very telling for its future.